A member of a known Buddhist sangha (community) set up a mindfulness-based counselling service in the front room of his house. The service offered help to people who were seeking spiritual direction in their lives.
He put posters in his window and handed out leaflets locally.
Several people, including some young people who knew him from his Buddhist community, came for counselling.
Following a counselling session with a young person where he was alone with them in his home, the Buddhist counsellor decided that he needed to think about his arrangements for safeguarding young people and himself.
If you are offering a child or young person a private space to talk and receive support you should have clear child safeguarding policies and procedures and carry out the appropriate vetting and barring checks.
When working with someone under 18 years old it is safer practice to have another adult nearby, within sight and hearing.
Complete a risk assessment to consider potential risks to yourself and the person with whom you are working and to decide what measures you are going to put in place to help minimise risks or deal with concerns. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) gives more information about risk management.
In situations where having another adult nearby would be inappropriate or intrusive you can make use of other safeguards by making sure:
- someone else always knows the time and place when you are alone with a child
- the young person, parent or carer and the person in charge know the reasons for the one-to-one contact and agree for it to take place
- if you are not able to inform the parent or carer and person in charge in advance that you will be alone with the young person you should do so as soon as possible afterwards
- you and the young person know what to do in an emergency and how to contact their parent or carer
- you have access to a phone or can summon help from a colleague by calling out
- the young person knows they can stop the one-to-one contact at any time and knows how to complain or to get help if they need it
- if you are alone with a child physical touching is normally best avoided
- you know when to stop the session should you become aware that the young person is uncomfortable about being alone with you
- you make a record of the fact that you were alone with the young person giving the reason for this and describing what happened.
If you are not able to put these safeguards in place consider limiting your service to those who are 18 years and older.